Best Wedding Venues

Discover some of the top wedding venue locations. Learn more about what you need from a wedding venue and creating a venue checklist.

Part of planning the perfect wedding is selecting the right venue. The venue sets the mood for the wedding. Picking the venue is typically the first selection a couple makes regarding their wedding. Each type of wedding venue has different benefits. For example, outdoor venues are often easier to decorate. Some locations also include catering or other services as part of the base price, which can save a great deal of money for the rest of your wedding.

One of the first decisions to make is whether you want an outdoor or indoor wedding, or some combination of both. If you want an outdoor wedding, you must consider what the weather is like for your chosen date. Cost is another important consideration. In 2019, the national average cost for a wedding venue was $10,500. Listed below are some of the top wedding venue locations.

Hotel Weddings

Hotel weddings are often the most expensive venue. However, they are also the most convenient locations. The biggest benefit of a hotel wedding is how much the hotel covers. Hotels have generously sized reception halls, music equipment, lighting and catering options. They also have plenty of parking space and luxurious grounds, if you want an outdoor reception. The wedding party can use their rooms for staging spaces and out of town guests can easily book overnight rooms. 

Many hotel chains also partner with local wedding planners and other groups, such as photographers, stylists and musicians. These services are often available at a discounted rate if you are using the hotel as your venue.

Barn Weddings

Barn weddings are common in rural areas. While it may not sound luxurious, barn weddings are much different from a traditional farm setting. The barns at wedding venues are converted into large spaces filled with all the amenities you need for a wedding. The barn is also stationed around beautiful scenery, perfect for an outdoor wedding.

With a barn or ranch wedding, you are primarily purchasing space. Some locations provide limited services, such as tables and chairs for your guests, but any other services must be paid for out of pocket. Additionally, some barns are off the beaten path, which can make setting the venue up complicated. 

Estate Weddings

Estate weddings are similar to hotels. Most of the services are available directly from the estate. The home also has plenty of interior and exterior space. One of the benefits, as well as limitations, is guests have less control over estate decorations. The owners of the estate determine what you are allowed to change. In most cases, the owners are fine with guests bringing in outside decorations, as long as the decorations do not permanently alter the grounds in anyway. However, if you are happy with the natural look of the estate, decorating is significantly easier.

Estates also vary greatly in price, based on the location. In the south, many estates are located on historic mansions with lavish gardens. Other locations are set up like an elaborate castle, which may cost more money.

Modern Wedding Venues

Modern wedding venues refer to nontraditional locations. Some of these locations were converted by the owner to rent for weddings, such as a converted warehouse. Other locations are rented by the couple, such as staging a wedding in an art gallery. These venues often require the most preparation, especially if the area is not normally used for weddings. You must carefully stage the area to ensure it has enough space for your needs. You must also negotiate with the owners to determine what you are allowed to change, and how much time you get to prepare the area.

Modern venues are best for smaller wedding parties. If you want a truly unique and memorable location, modern weddings are an excellent setting.

Wedding Venue Checklist

Looking at wedding venues is often overwhelming for couples. To make the process easier, make a checklist for everything you need from your venue. This not only helps you narrow down locations, but also figure out your budget. This is especially important if you are planning a wedding in 2021 or 2022, as the average wedding cost is expected to rise. This is because many wedding businesses, including venue locations, are raising prices to recoup losses from a significant lack of business during the Covid-19 quarantine.

Even small venues must have multiple locations to accommodate both guests and your wedding party. A venue commonly has an area for the ceremony, a large section for the audience, and at least two separate spaces for the wedding party to prepare. You must also consider parking and dining options. Another consideration is lodging for guests who are traveling from out of state.

When you request a quote from the venue, make sure all the services are included. Some venues purposefully only list the rental cost, then surprise you later with additional fees for catering services or charging extra if you exceed a guest limit. These businesses know it takes too long to find another location, so couples are more likely to agree to the extra costs to avoid delaying the wedding. In addition to getting a fair quote, make sure you get accurate capacity limits, based on the specific areas you plan to rent.